House Fire with Jury Verdict for the Defendant


Project Info

Introduction
In the early morning hours of spring 2006, a fire broke out at a summer home on Cape Cod, MA.  The exact time the fire started is unknown as all occupants were asleep, however a neighbor did call 911 at 0200 providing a preliminary timeline of events.  The neighbor having seen flashes of light and “popping” noises assumed a transformer was malfunctioning.  The observant neighbor proceeded to the fire and took a series of pictures from 0219 to 0303.  It later became apparent that these pictures would be of significant benefit in determining whether the utility was at fault. 

ASSIGNED TASK
A lawsuit was filed by the owners against the electric utility. To determine whether our client was at fault.

ANALYSIS
RTI  analyzed historical family photographs along with the photographs taken by the neighbor to great length.  The images determined that the power lines were intact and functional at the time of the fire.  RTI used photography to prove that the reflection of the fire caused what appeared to be arcing to the eye witness, however in reality it was simply the reflection of light.  We did so by duplicating similar conditions and photographing the results.  We were also able to provide an alternative scenario as to how the fire started.  During trial RTI provided a variety of overlays of images taken before and during the fire on court boards as a visual aid for the jury.  The courtroom itself had no technical display options available so a traditional method was needed.

RESULTS
A jury verdict was returned after a short deliberation in favor of our client, the utility.

Categories

  • Electrical Engineering
  • Expert Witness
  • Fire, Explosion & Blast
  • Forensic Investigation
  • Utilities
  • Visual Media